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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)




      Your rank and standing under the reign of the Prince of Peace have never been surpassed--indeed, have never been equalled by any portion of the human race. You have visions and revelations of God--his being and perfections--developments of the depths of his wisdom and knowledge, of the counsels of his grace, and the purposes of his love, which give you an intellectual and moral superiority above all your predecessors in the patriarchal and Jewish ages of the world. Secrets of God, which were hid from ages and generations, have been revealed to you by the Apostles of the Great Apostle and High Priest of your confession. What Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, and all the Prophets, down to John the Harbinger, rejoiced to anticipate, you have realized and enjoyed. The intellectual pleasures of the highest and most sublime conceptions of God and of [265] Christ vouchsafed to you, so far transcend the attainments of the ancient people of God, that you are comparatively exalted to heaven, and may enjoy the days of heaven upon earth. You have a book which contains not only the charter of your privileges, but which explains a thousand mysteries in the antecedent administrations of God over all the nations of the earth. In it you have such interpretations of God's past providences in the affairs of individuals, families, and nations, as open to you a thousand sources of rational and sentimental enjoyment from incidents and things which puzzled and perplexed the most intelligent and highly favored of past ages. Mountains are, indeed, levelled; valleys are exalted; rough places are made plain, and crooked ways straight to your apprehension; and from these data you are able to form more just conceptions of the present, and more lofty anticipations of the future, than fell to the lot of the most highly favored subjects of preceding dispensations. And, indeed, so inexhaustible are the deep and rich mines of knowledge and understanding in the Christian Revelations, that the most comprehensive mind in the kingdom of heaven might labor in them during the age of Methusaleh, constantly enriching itself with all knowledge and spiritual understanding, and yet leave at last vast regions and tracts of thought wholly unexplored.

      But this decided superiority over the most gifted saints of former ages you unquestionably enjoy. Among all the living excellencies with which they were acquainted, they wanted a perfect model of all human excellence. Bright as were the virtues and excellencies of an Abraham, a Joseph, a David, there were dark spots, or, at least, some blemishes in their moral character. They failed to place in living form before their contemporaries, or to leave as a legacy to posterity, every virtue, grace, and excellence that adorn human nature. But you have Jesus not only as "the image of the visible God," "an effulgence of his glory, and an exact representation of his character," but as a man holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sin, exhibiting in the fullest perfection every excellence which gives amiability, dignity, and glory to human character. You have motives to purity and holiness, a stimulus to all that is manly, good, and excellent, from what he said, and did, and suffered as the Son of Man, which would have added new charms and beauties to the most exemplary of all the saints of the olden times.

      Means and opportunities of the highest intellectual and moral enjoyments are richly bestowed on you, for which they sighed in vain; God having provided some better things for Christians than for Jews and patriarchs. Shall we not, then, fellow-citizens, appreciate and use, as we ought, to our present purity and happiness, to our eternal honor and glory, the light which the Sun of Righteousness has shed [266] so richly and abundantly on us? Remember that we stand upon Apostles and Prophets, and are sustained by Jesus the light of the world, and the interpreter and vindicator of all God's ways to man, in creation, providence, and redemption. All suns are stars: and he that is now to us in this life "the Sun of Righteousness," in respect of the future is "the bright and Morning Star." Till the day of eternity dawn, and the day star of immortality arise in our hearts, let us always look to Jesus.

      But it is not only the felicity of superior heavenly light, though that is most delectable to our rational nature, which distinguishes you the citizens of this kingdom; but that personal, real, and plenary remission of all sin, which you enjoy through the blood of the Lamb of God, bestowed on you through the ordinances of Christian immersion and confession of sins.

      The Jews, indeed, had sacrifices under the law, which could, and did take away ceremonial sins: and which so far absolved from the guilt of transgressing that law, as to give them a right to the continued enjoyment of the temporal and political promises of the national compact; but farther Jewish sacrifices and ablutions could not reach. This benefit every Jew had from them. But as respected the conscience, Paul, the great commentator on Jewish sacrifice,, assures us they had no power. "With respect to the conscience," says he, "they could not make him who did the service perfect."

      The entrance of the law gave the knowledge of sin. It gave names to particular sins, and "caused the offense to abound." The sacrifices appended to it had respect to that institution alone, and not to sin in the general, nor to sin in its true and proper nature. The promise made to the patriarchs and the sacrificial institution added to it, through faith in that promise, led the believing to anticipate a real sin-offering; but it appears the Jewish sacrifices had only respect to the Jewish institution, and excepting their typical character, gave no new light to those under that economy, on the subject of a true and proper remission of sins, through the real and bloody sacrifice of Christ.

      The patriarch and the believing Jew, as respected a real remission of sins, stood upon the same ground; for, as has been observed, the episode institution, or, as Paul says, "the supervening of the law" made no change in the apprehensions of remission as respected the conscience. But a new age having come, (for "these ordinances for cleansing the flesh were imposed only till the time of reformation,") and Christ having, by a more perfect sacrifice, opened the way into the true holy places, has laid the foundation for perfecting the conscience by a real and full remission of sins, which, by the virtue of his blood, terminates not upon the flesh, but upon the conscience of the sinner. [267]

      John, indeed, who lived at the dawn of the Reformation, preached reformation with an immersion for the remission of sins; saying that "they should believe in him that was to come after him." Those who believed John's gospel and reformed, and were immersed into John's reformation, had the remission of sins through faith in him that was to come: but you, fellow citizens, even in respect of the enjoyment of remission, are greatly advanced above the disciples of John. You have been immersed, not only by the authority of Jesus, as Lord of all, into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, but into the death or sacrifice of Christ. This no disciple of Moses or of John knew anything about. This gives you an insight into sin, and a freedom from it, as respects the conscience--a peace and a joy unutterable and full of glory, to which both the disciples of Moses and of the Harbinger were strangers. So that the light of the risen day of heaven's eternal Sun greatly excels, not only the glimmerings of the stars in the patriarchal age, and the faint light of the moon in the Jewish age, but even the twilight of the morning.

      Your new relation to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, into which you have been introduced by faith in the Messiah and immersion into his death, verifies, in respect of the sense and assurance of remission, all that John and Jesus said concerning that superiority of privilege vouchsafed under the Messiah in the kingdom of heaven. You can see your sins washed away in the blood that was shed on Mount Calvary. That which neither the highly favored John nor any disciple of the Messiah could understand, till Jesus said, "It is finished," you not only clearly perceive, but have cordially embraced. You can feel, and say with all assurance, that "the blood of Jesus Christ now cleanses you from all sin;" and that by faith you have access to the Mediator of the New Institution, and to the blood of sprinkling which speaks glad tidings to the heart. You have an Advocate with the Father, and when conscious of any impurity, coming to him by God, confessing your sins, and supplicating pardon through his blood, you have the promise of remission. You now know how God is just as well as merciful in forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.

      But superior light and knowledge, and enlarged conceptions of God, with such an assurance of real and personal remission as pacifies the conscience and introduces the peace of God into the heart, are not the only distinguishing favors which you enjoy in the new relation to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, into which you are introduced under the Reign of Heaven; but you are formally adopted into the family of God, and constituted the sons and daughters of the Father Almighty. [268]

      To be called "the friend of God" was the highest title bestowed on Abraham; to be called the friends of Christ, was the peculiar honor of the disciples of Christ, to whom he confided the secrets of his reign; but to be called "the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ," is not only the common honor of all Christians, but the highest honor which could be vouchsafed to the inhabitants of this earth. Such honor have you, my fellow citizen, in being related to the only begotten Son of God: "For to as many as received him he gave the privilege of becoming the sons of God." These, indeed, were not descended from families of noble blood, nor genealogies of high renown; neither are they the offspring of the instincts of the flesh, nor made the sons of God "by the will of man," who sometimes adopts the child of another as his own; but they are "born of God" through the ordinances of his grace. "Behold how great love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called children of God!" "The world, indeed, does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now are we the children of God. It does not yet appear what we shall be!"

      "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." And if sons, it follows "you are heirs of God through Christ," the Heir of all things. Is this, fellow citizens, a romantic vision, or sober and solemn truth, that you are children of God, possessing the spirit of Christ, and constituted heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ of the eternal inheritance! What manner of persons, then, ought you to be! How pure, how holy, and heavenly in your temper; how just and righteous in all your ways; how humble and devoted to the Lord; how joyful and triumphant in your King!

      Permit me, then, to ask, Wherein do you excel?--nay, rather, you will propose this question to yourselves. You will say, How shall we still more successfully promote the interest, the honor, and the triumphs of the gospel of the kingdom? Is there anything we can do by our behaviour, our morality, our piety, by our influence, by all the earthly means with which God has furnished us? Is there anything we can do more to strengthen the army of the faith, to invigorate the champions of the kingdom, to make new conquests for our King? Can we not increase the joy of the Lord in converting souls--can "'We not furnish occasions of rejoicing to the angels of God--can we not gladden the hearts of thousands who have never tasted the joys of the children of God?

      In the present administration of the kingdom of God, during the absence of the King he has said to the citizens, "Put on the armor of light"--"Contend earnestly for the faith"--"Convert the world"--"Occupy till I come"--"Let your light shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father in heaven"--"That [269] the Gentiles may, by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation." He has thus entrusted to the citizens the great work for which he died--the salvation of men. Let us, then, brethren, be found faithful to the Lord and to men, that he may address us at his coming with the most acceptable plaudit, "Well done, good and faithful servants; enter into the joy of your Lord!"

      Great as the opposition is to truth and salvation, we have no reason to despond. Greater are our friends and allies, and infinitely more powerful than all our enemies. God is on our side--Jesus Christ is our King--the Holy Spirit is at his disposal--angels are his ministering servants--the prayers of all the prophets, apostles, saints, and martyrs are for our success--our brethren are numerous and strong--they have the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the artillery of truth--the argument's of God, the preparation of the gospel of peace--our Commander and Captain is the most successful General that ever entered the field of war--he never lost a battle--he is wonderful in counsel, excellent in working, valiant in fight--the Lord of hosts is his name. He can stultify all the machinations of our enemies, control all the powers of nature, and subdue all our foes, terrestrial and infernal. Under his conduct we are like Mount Zion that can never be moved. Indeed, under him we are come to Mount Zion, the stronghold and fortress of the kingdom, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem--to myriads of angels--the general assembly and congregation of the first born, enrolled in heaven--to God the judge of all--to the spirits of just men made perfect--to Jesus the Mediator of the New Constitution--and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks such peace, and joy, and courage to the heart. Ought we not, then, brethren, "to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might"? If in faith, and courage, and prayer, we put on the heavenly armor, and march under the King, sounding the gospel trumpet, the walls of Jericho will fall to the ground, and the banners of the Cross will wave over the ruins of Paganism, Atheism, Skepticism, and Sectarianism--

Nil desperandum, te duce Christe.

If a Roman could say, "Nothing is to be feared under the auspices of Cesar," may not the Christian say, There is no despair under the guardianship of Messiah the King?

      But, fellow citizens, though clothed with the whole panoply of heaven, and headed by the Captain of Salvation, there is no success in this war to be expected without constant and incessant prayer. When the Apostles began to build up this kingdom, notwithstanding all the gifts they enjoyed, they found it necessary to devote themselves to prayer as well as to the ministry of the word. And when Paul describes all the armor of God, piece by piece, in putting it on, he says, [270] "Take the sword of the Spirit--with all supplication and deprecation, pray at all seasons in spirit, watch with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

      This was most impressively and beautifully pictured out in the wars of ancient Israel against their enemies. While Moses lifted up his holy hands to heaven, Israel prevailed; and when he did not, Amalek prevailed. So it is now. When the disciples of Christ, the heaven-born citizens of the kingdom, continue instant in prayer and watchfulness, the truth triumphs in their hearts and in the world. When they do not, they become cold, timid, and impotent as Samson shorn, and the enemy gains strength over them. Then the good cause of the Lord languishes.

      It is not necessary that we should understand how prayer increases our zeal, our wisdom, our strength, our joy, or how it gives success to the cause, any more than that we should understand how our food is converted into flesh, and blood, and bones. It is only necessary that we eat; and it is only necessary that we should pray as we are taught and commanded. Experience proves that the outward man is renewed day by day by our daily bread; and experience proves that the inward man is renewed day by day by prayer and thanksgiving. The Lord has promised his Holy Spirit to them that ask him in truth; and is it not necessary to their success? If it be not necessary to give new revelations, it is necessary to keep in mind those already given, and to bring the word written seasonably to our remembrance. Besides, if the Spirit of the Lord was necessary to the success of Gideon and Barak, and Samson and David, and all the great warriors of Israel according to the flesh, who fought the battles of the Lord with the sword, the sling, and the bow; who can say that it is not necessary to those who draw the sword of the Spirit and fight the good fight of faith? In my judgment it is as necessary now as then: necessary I mean to equal success--necessary to the success of those who labor in the word and teaching of Jesus Christ--and necessary to those who would acquit themselves like men in every department in the rank of the great army of the Lord of hosts.

      Though the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual, they are mighty, (only, however, through God, to the overturning of strongholds,) to the overturning of all reasonings against the truth, and every high thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and in leading captive every thought to the obedience of Christ. Let us, then, fellow citizens, whether as leaders or as private soldiers, abound in prayer and supplications to God night and day. If sincere, and ardent, and incessant prayers to God for everything that he has promised; for all things for which the Apostles prayed, were offered up by all the congregations, and by every disciple in his family and in his closet [271] for the triumphs of the truth, then would we see the army of the Lord successful in fight against atheism, infidelity, and sectarianism--then would we see disciples growing in knowledge and in favor with God and man. And is not the conversion of the world, and our own eternal salvation, infinitely worthy of all the effort and enterprise in man, seeing God himself has done so much in the gift of his Son and Holy Spirit, and left for us so little to do--nothing, indeed, but what is in the compass of our power? And shall we withhold that little, especially as he has given us so many and so exceedingly great and precious promises to stimulate us to exertion? Has not Jesus said, "The conqueror shall inherit all things"?--that he "will not blot his name out of the book of life"?--that he will confess it before his Father and his holy angels?--that he will place him "upon his throne, and give him the crown of life that shall never fade away"?

      Rise up, then, in the strength of Judah's Lion! Be valiant for the truth! Adorn yourselves with all the graces of the Spirit of God! Put on the armor of light; and, with all the gentleness, and meekness, and mildness there is in Christ--with all the courage, and patience, and zeal, and effort worthy of a cause so salutary, so pure, so holy, and so divine, determine never to faint nor to falter till you enter the pearly gates--never to lay down your arms, till, with the triumphant millions, you stand before the throne, and exulting sing, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing!"--"To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing, and honor, and glory, and strength forever and forever!" Amen.

[A. C.]      

      Alexander Campbell. "Address to the Citizens of the Kingdom." The Millennial Harbinger Extra 5 (August 1834): 427-433.


[MHA1 265-272]

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Benjamin Lyon Smith
The Millennial Harbinger Abridged (1902)